Monday, January 31, 2011

Bento (127) - Spinach, Strawberry, and Soy Bunny Side Salads

Since I still had an abundance of strawberries and spinach leaves (curses, Sam's Club and you're 2 pound bags of items . . . ) I decided to make spinach, strawberry, and soy bunny side salads to take to a pot-luck. The "sun" is a chicken egg (instead of a quail egg). A few salads had radish roses instead of bunnies - for those not inclined to devour adorable soy bunnies.

Bento (126) - How To Bento

To continue the bento insanity . . . I didn't have time to bento in the morning, so I stuffed a grocery bag with ingredients and took a paring knife to work : ^.^ Then it dawned on me that if I was going to make a bento at work, I might as well photograph the step-by-step for the curious. Admittedly, I had a rough idea of strawberry spinach salad and skewers when I stuffed the bag, but then I had to spread out the ingredients and put some thought into it.

Step 1: Ingredients

We have store-bought fried chicken (they were out of everything else), leftover fried udon noodles, leftover deli pasta, pickled plums, half a cucumber, spinach, strawberries, mozarella cheese, various picks (since I knew I wanted skewers), a sauce container with vinaigrette, and an empty bento box with silicone cupcake holder. Observe the joy of bento!! MU HA HA.

Step 2: Pasta Salad

Stuff cupcake holder with pasta salad. Leave a small depression for pickled plum.

Step 3: Pickled Plum

Wash and dry spinach. Tear off a small piece and use it to cup the pickled plum and to keep the flavor of the plum separate from the pasta salad. Stuff plum and spinach leaf into salad.

Step 4: Spinach Salad

Lay down a bed of spinach leaves. In this case, I loosely "rolled" the leaves which made them look fluffy and left open spaces to stick strawberries in later.

Step 5: Strawberries

Cut strawberries in quarters to make cute little triangles. EAT ANY EXTRA . . . this is very important :P
Make one layer of strawberry tips to cover where the spinach meets the cupcake holder. Stuff strawberries, small point out, in the rolled leaves. Scatter a few extra torn spinach leaves to make the spinach look "leafy."

Step 6: Bed of Noodles.

I knew I would need something to support my skewers, so I laid down a bed of leftover udon noodles. . . though this bento was light on protein, so I probably should have used extra chicken meat instead.

Step 7: Garnish!

Add a few spinach leaves to the noodles to provide a background contrast and keep the skewers separate from the noodles.

Step 8: Sauce Container

Add the sauce container while there is room (since it is rather rigid and non-squishable).

Step 9: Skewers! Cucumber Chunks.

And now for skewer construction. I cut a one inch thick piece of cucumber.

Then skinned four sides to leave some dark green coloring.

And cut it into quarters to make nice thick square chunks.

Step 10: Skewers! Chicken and Cheese!

Once the cucumber was ready, I peeled the skin off the fried chicken and did my best to tear off large skewer size chunks of meat. I also opened the mozarella cheese and rolled it into soft little white balls. (Cheese is slimy. Just sayin'.) If I had thought about it, I would have sprinkled salt on the cucumber and let it set while I did this step. Consider that an optional step 9.5. ^.^

Step 11: Skewers!

Now that all the ingredients were prepared, I created skewers by poking a cute animal skewer through cucumber, chicken, and cheese. The next skewer I did chicken, cucumber, and cheese to switch up the order and make them seem a little different.

Step 12: Places, Everyone!

Once the skewers were made (notice how messy the plate was - skewers tend to require a lot of ingredients since half of them fall apart!), I place them side by side in the bento box, on top of the udon noodle bed.

First skewer:


Step 14: Detail Work

I took a moment to look at the box and decided to add an additional strawberry tip and some mozarella cheese to make a small strawberry flower above the sauce container.

Step 13: Enjoy!

And stared at my lunch for a good five minutes before consuming. OM NOM NOM!!!!!!

Happy bento-ing, All!

Bento (125) - Naruto Uzumaki

Yes . . . I am enough of a fan girl that when I saw Naruto Uzumaki (the fishcake) at Pacific Mercantile, I had to pick it up BECAUSE OF THE NAME (admittedly, I was shopping for fishcake, so it's not as bad as it could have been . . . but still). I'm halfway to the habit of buying things based on cuteness vs. taste. MU HA HA!!

Of course . . . then I started wondering if I have the spirals going the wrong way. Or if there is a wrong way. Hrm. O.o

Top level is deli pasta salad and spinach/strawberry salad (which was apparently the ingredient of the week). Sauce container has balsamic vinaigrette. Bottom level is Naruto (Uzumaki even :P) over fried yakisoba noodles with sauteed onion and carrot.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bento (124) - Fun with Jello

Okay - the little jellies are not really the focus of this bento - but just to prove we all have our moments . . . I mostly completed this bento before realizing I had absolutely no fruit (aside from pickled plums) in the fridge. So I took an orange jelly and a clear jelly and YES . . . I took the time to dice them into small jelly cubes . . . HA HA HA ha. With a paring knife. And I didn't cut myself ^.^ I then realized the noodles were glaring white and decide to toss on some cheese toppers . . . and then I thought some folks might like a before/after comparison to see how much of a difference little details make.

End Product:

Bento before cheese stars:

Ingredients: This is my usual beef and noodles with sweet soy broth (the broth is in the sauce holder). I added a little lettuce/corn/ketchup flower to brighten up the meat . . . and oddly, the cubed jellies and zuchinni/squash ended up color coordinating. Score! Red is a pickled plum.

Bento (123) - Delightful Panko Encrusted Deep-Fried Pork Chop

Today's accomplishment was making a checkered apple. YAY! Of course - the things I think look the hardest always seem to end up being the easiest :P

Top level is apples and super nommy potato salad topped by a pickled plum. Bottom level is a radish flower, carrot flowers, and peas nestled next to a super-delicious-probably-not-so-healthy Panko-encrusted pork chop. NOMMY! Rice. Pig (filled with soy sauce).

Bento (122) - Egg Foo Yong

Alrighty! Another few months and I may be able to get the Internets at my house again - which will help with my posting consistency. Until then, please keep bearing with me!!

And now to the food (which is why you're really here . . . >.< Top level is blueberries with provolone cheese flowers and an assortment of vegetables (carrot sticks, radish flower, peas) accompanied by balsamic vinaigrette (in the orange sauce container). The bottom is rice covered with egg foo yong, topped with carrot stars and fishie filled with soy.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bento (121) - SHEEP!!!!

In case I haven't mentioned it in a while - I was inspired to do bento by Pikko at Adventures in Bentomaking. Pikko and Maki Ogawa recently put out a bento book called Yum Yum Bento . . . from which I have learned to make SHEEP!!! SHEEP!! (Credit where credit is due.)

Top left is blueberry/grape salad. Top right is imitation crab over avacado with corn and pea flowers. Bottom is SHEEP!!!!!! (okay - you knew that) - or fluffy rice cupcakes with quail eggs stuffed in the middle, cheese horns, and nori eyes and mouths. Bottom red circle is a radish flower.

I was late to work today. Waaaaaaay late to work.

Bento (120) - Bunny Sandwiches . . . or Rather Sandwiches and Bunnies . . .

Recently my quail eggs have been dying unevenly . . . I wonder why :( Luckily, bunnies can be splotched and still be cute! Today's bento was turkey sandwiches with radish garnishes, peas with soy bunnies, and mandarin oranges with a sliced cherry.

Bento (119) - Soy Beef and Waldorf Salad

I would love to take credit for the lovely waldorf salad (which was absolutely nommy), but I'm fessing up that it was a purchase from Sam's club (and after a week and a half - I'd had enough :P). I even made two bentos!

Top right hand side is peas topped with baked zuchinni and squash around a radish flower. Bottom is beef and noodles with sweet soy sauce.

And now for the same food - slightly different arrangement.